4 February, 2023

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Jacinda Arden’s Feminist Retirement In A World Of Patriarchal Barnacles

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a surprising announcement last Thursday of her decision to stand down as Prime Minister and retire from politics. Five years ago, on 26 October 2017, Ms. Arden, aged 37, became the youngest female Head of Government in the world. With her retirement announcement at the age of 42, she might be setting another record as the youngest person to voluntarily retire from political office. 

The late Indian journalist Frank Moraes once called Indira Gandhi (whose 57th anniversary of becoming India’s first female PM also fell on Thursday, 19th January) “the only man among the old women of the Congress.” Mr. Moraes was echoing the presumption of his age that for a woman to be in politics, she must first be like a man. And a week or unsuccessful male politician was invariably a woman. Jacinda Arden defined a different age.

There have been a number of female political leaders and Heads of Governments before Jacinda Arden, there are quite a few of them now, and many, many more will come in the future. Many of them, past, fitted the ‘only-man’ model for women in politics. Arden was different. She was asked at her retirement press conference about the “traits to make a good prime minister. “Empathy,” she replied and went on, “If you ask someone of my generation what they believe a politician to be and to name some of the traits, I doubt they would list kindness, doubt they would list empathy. But I hope the next generation does.”

Jacinda Ardern announcing retirement, choking back tears.

She said more, “unless you can work to comprehend the experience of others it is very hard to deliver solutions and respond to crises without that starting point. That has been a really important principle for me.” Asked how she would like New Zealanders to remember her, she replied, “as someone who always tried to be kind.” 

Maternal PM

Ms. Arden exemplified a  female-human approach to politics and public life, projecting ‘soft power’; as opposed to the old and often contrived male-heroic approach showing off bully power. Brecht told us “unhappy the land that needs heroes.” Worse for the land that will even take fake heroes. But the craving for heroes has not ended, nor has the self-promotion of scoundrels as heroic saviours. There are a quite a few of them in world polities regardless of the forms of government they contend over. Too many, in fact, for the general good. Jacinda Arden was an exception. Too few like her, sadly, for the general good.

Arden is only the second elected leader in human history to give birth to a child while in office. The first was Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto. But the late Benazir Bhutto was more in the Indira Gandhi mould, and she also separated work and home like men, even though many of them would not separate church and state as they must. Ms. Bhutto was no feminist, and Pakistani feminists uncharitably mocked her, expanding the abbreviation PPP of (her family’s) Pakistan Peoples Party, as Permanently Pregnant Prime Minister.   

UN(2018): with three month old Neve and partner Clarke Gayford.
Mr. Gayford, a broadcaster, paid his way to babysit.

Three months after becoming Prime Minister, Ardern announced that she was pregnant, and took six weeks parental leave after the birth of her daughter in June 2018. She had appointed Winston Peters to be Acting Prime Minister during her absence. In September, she became the first woman and world leader to attend the UN General Assembly with her three month old daughter Neve and her partner Clarke Gayford who paid his way to babysit while the mother of his child addressed the UN Assembly. Contrast with other world leaders, and there are plenty of them in Sri Lanka, who never miss an opportunity to fly the world with family and friends at other people’s expense. 

Ardent was graceful in announcing her exit and practical in explaining it. She called the opportunity to lead one’s country an “enormous privilege.” And with privilege comes responsibility, “including the responsibility to know when you’re the right person to lead, and also when you’re not,” she said. “I have given my absolute all to being Prime Minister,” she went on, “ but it has also taken a lot out of me. You cannot and should not do the job unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unplanned and unexpected challenges that inevitably come along.” In her own self-assessment, she no longer had “that bit extra in the tank to do the job justice. It’s that simple.” But it needs humility, strength and character, not attributes you would expect from wretched barnacles. 

Not all men are wretched. Two centuries ago in America, George Washington started a tradition by retiring after two terms as President. Now, those who get elected as Presidents are constitutionally retired from the presidency after two terms. Except Donald Trump who wants elections denied and the Constitution changed to suit his whims. Nelson Mandela stepped down after one term to create a tradition of democratic transition in post-Apartheid South Africa. His example and his sacrifice have been lost on his successors. Again, too few of them in today’s world.

Finest Moments

Asked for her finest moments, Arden pointed to climate change and her steering New Zealand to adopt zero carbon legislation, and her commitment to tackling the socioeconomic conditions of New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people and offering them co-governance. She won international acclaim and admiration among Muslims for her response and leadership after the March 2019 shooting at two Christchurch mosques in which 51 people died and 49 were injured. Addressing parliament after visiting Muslim mourners in Christchurch, she refused to utter the name of the attacker, keeping him “nameless” and preferring to  “speak the names of those who were lost rather than the name of the man who took them.”     

She again caught the world’s attention with her leadership in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic that left New Zealand an oasis of safety in an over infected planet. But the harsh measures her government took and the economic downturns after Covid eventually took a toll on her and the government’s popularity. As a woman, she has had her share of attacks by right wing freedom nuts and misogynists.  

According to New Zealand’s Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, Jacinda Arden has been subjected to “constant personalisation and vilification” in the most “demeaning form of politics we have ever seen.” In the opinion of columnist Vera Alves, no other Prime Minister in history has had to deal “with the level of vitriol Ardern has had to put up with on a regular, exhausting basis.”

Even though the governing Labour Party is trailing badly in the polls, the retiring Prime Minister is insistent that she is not leaving politics because Labour might lose the election in October, and she believes that her Party can and will win the election without her. She is proud of her record and the ambitious agenda that her government has delivered on, “while responding to some of the biggest threats to the health and economic wellbeing of New Zealanders, arguably since World War Two.”

Jacinda Anand was a breath of fresh air in an era when politics came to be dominated by charlatans and tricksters like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro; climate laggards like Scott Morrison; Muslim haters like Narendra Modi; corrupt nationalists like Netanyahu and Rajapaksas; and entrenched autocrats like Putin and Xi Jinping. She was only the Prime Minister of a small country of five million people, but she projected the aura of soft power. 

Privileging co-option over coercion, empathy over enmity, reason over rhetoric, persuasion over propaganda, consultation over demagoguery, and diplomacy over military might. More than anything else, she showed that there are soft alternatives to unnecessarily hard choices. Rejecting one’s indispensability is a hard personal decision. At 42, Jacinda Arden has shown that she has the strength and the character to make that decision and retire. 

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Latest comments

  • 0
    6

    “Mr. Moraes was echoing the presumption of his age that for a woman to be in politics, she must first be like a man. “
    That is unfair by Frank M. (BTW India was ruled by a tough woman for 63 years, before he was born of course.)
    The point he was trying to make was that the post-Nehru Congress males were spineless.
    Similar things could have been said about Mrs Thatcher, but ‘Iron Lady’ beat the term to it.

    • 8
      8

      Thank god the deeply unpopular Feminist Dictatorship in done and dusted in NZ. She was deeply unpopular and would have lost so had the sense to leave beforehand, unlike the US Force backed Ranil Rajapakse leaches of Sri Lanka!
      She gave women and feminism a bad name with a diabolical Covid-19 Dictatorship, forced PCR testing, and deadly mRNA injections and militarization and lockdowns and incarceration of the country based on FAKE DATA.
      She also gave the left a bad name too and hence had to go! Her own party detested her!

  • 1
    7

    “Even though the governing Labour Party is trailing badly in the polls, the retiring Prime Minister is insistent that she is not leaving politics because Labour might lose the election in October, and she believes that her Party can and will win the election without her.”
    Do you believe all of this?
    Perhaps you believe politicians do speak the truth on occasion.
    She had to say that “her Party can and will win the election without her”. Otherwise Labour could be in for a bigger drubbing.
    *
    It is a white lie, and thus excusable.

  • 5
    0

    Biologically speaking a “Female” is different from a “Male” Normally, a female is “Structured” to carry forward and handle the greatest task of “Reproduction” and its “Maintenance” from the “Wombe” to the “Grave Yard”. In this “Journey,” one of the most essential ingredients given by nature is “LOVE” wrapped in “TENDERNESS”. So, generally speaking, this “Species” of “Femininity” is “Soft”; “Tender”; “Loveable”; and, “Accommodating”; but “Hardy” and “Enduring”, perhaps in “SILENCE”.

    But there are “Exceptions” to all those “Generalities”. When such “Exceptions” (mostly comparable to the Male gender) get implanted, the behavioral trends and patterns take a “Solid” state. The best example, I can give is the First Female Prime Minister of Isreal – Golda Meir who fought a tough war to establish her country as a strong force to reckon with on the world map.

    So the “FITNESS” of a “Female” cannot in any way be underestimated to fit in with the counterpart – the MALE. It must be a case-by-case study and assessment.

    • 2
      0

      Simon
      “Normally, a female is “Structured” to carry forward and handle the greatest task of “Reproduction””
      Not by herself, definitely.

      • 2
        0

        old codger: Please give your deep thinking to the words, viz. “carry forward the reproduction” I used.

        • 1
          0

          Simon, point taken.

          • 0
            0

            old codger: Thank you for understanding.

  • 0
    0

    Ah! Politicians!

    The ol’ Catcht-22 ……… they always have to pretend it’s not about themselves; but about the country/people …….. if not they won’t get elected.

    The first pol, who cuts the bullshit, and says it’s about himself/herself will have my vote. ……. Then at least I won’t know what to expect: unchartered territory. …….. If not it’s all too predictable.


    The best quip I’ve heard about politicians …….. Bill Connolly: “If my uncle john, all of a sudden gets up and says I want to be a politician, I’ll just bundle him into the car and take him to the nearest psychiatric hospital. There is something wrong with people who want to be politicians. “

    “The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever becoming one.”
    “Don’t vote. It just encourages them….” ― Billy Connolly

  • 1
    6

    deserting the sinking ship.That is all thre is to it.No need to say you are burned out etc etc.

    • 5
      2

      S
      That is being too harsh.
      She has been honest in admitting that she is not up to the task.
      She realized that she has failed in her second term.
      What do you want her to do?
      Drive the party to destruction at the polls.
      *
      If VP had the courage to accept failure even as late as the fall of Kilinochchi, would not there be a few more innocent people alive?

      • 0
        7

        SJ

        she should have left 6 months ago if she wanted o save the sinking ship.Now she wants to only save her arse.It is too little too late.policies should be changed.

  • 9
    14

    Not sure what sex our president is , but do you people remember the election night 2020 when the UNP which he leads was reduced to less than 250000 votes country wide ?

    When it was apparent that the mighty nation builder has suffered a another humiliating defeat his agents at the polling centre argued that all the other votes given to UNP candidates should be counted for the bogus leader so that he may go to parliament as an elected MP !

    This argument was rejected of course.

    Now the rascal is arguing that elections must be postponed. For a guy who is totally rejected by this nation what a fraud of an argument !

    • 7
      2

      ds
      Sexual preferences are not the same as sexual identity.

    • 5
      1

      Deepthi of the big bangers,
      Weren’t you asking others to leave sex out of political arguments just the other day?

  • 5
    1

    Jacinda Arden is one of my favorite politicians. She got my attention with her extraordinary honesty and compassionate approach to political issues. As the author mentioned, the management of mosque shooting, and Covid- 19 are matchless, prime examples. When Langkang masters stole the Covid-19 funds and compared them with America on the Covid fighting that they had beaten America, I was wondering why these idiots were not looking at New Zealand. Sad part is that America and India were the countries that supplied injection to the world. India gave them free 500,000 vials of injection & approved another 3 million more for $5 dollar each. The Afghani donkeys did not accept that deal because it was offered to them by a Demelo Pariah. Bangladesh bought from China for $10 a vial. After that Langkang rascals bought from China for $15 a vial. Then these undressed, not even an Amude wearing, shameless, baboon shrewdness went and borrowed from Bangladesh $200M, but by now, for the third time, they have had the repayment of that loan deferred. Mass murderer Siri Ma O was also a Prime Minister; Jacinda Ardron also a Prime Minister. The UN may hire her. But her child is too small right now for all those big assignments.

    Wishing her the best.

    • 6
      0

      Mallai , lankans have already forgotten their fugitive President who they thought was an Iron Man ” abandoned his responsibilities and the very nation , running from country to country looking for a hideout, are now commenting on Jacinda.

      • 5
        0

        C
        Very true…..looking elsewhere is a comfortable distraction.If only SL gets its act together!
        …….and reduces passoport ques

  • 1
    0

    Who knows why Ardern retired now? did she retire because she knew she would lose the next election or did she retire to spend more time with her family, who knows. The Murdoch media around the world and other right wing media had a viceral hatred for her and are publishing their own reasons based on their biases, but only Ardern and those close to her will know the real reason for her leaving, everything else is mere speculation!

  • 0
    0

    Jacinda Arden’s Feminist Retirement In A World Of Patriarchal Barnacles
    ————-
    Jacinda is a tare (seed of cain) and a freemason on top of that, just like all her male political colleagues.
    All a bunch of criminals working for satan.

  • 0
    0

    Many of these illuminati politicians have gone into hiding.
    Their wicked NWO plot has failed, which is why many of them are dieing or resigning from their posts.

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